For The Homeland Conspiracy, recording its first album is like homework.
The five members of the La Crosse band — Duchess, Princess, Mort, Bubbles and Jimbot — gathered at HPJ Studio in rural Tomah to work on the upcoming album Sunday.
"Recording is a lot more demanding than playing live because you actually have to play the music the way you want it to play forever, because it's going on tape," Duchess said.
There's more freedom in a live show to make mistakes or to change things up, he said. When in the studio, the band is under more pressure to make their music perfect.
"You don't have the energy of a crowd to feed off of. It's very isolated and exacting," Bubbles said.
That's what makes recording at the Tomah studio, owned by Mark Betthauser, a relief.
"With these cats, even Mark, it's such a natural progression. This group right here, we show up, we talk, we laugh, we play music and it seems to somehow knock itself out," Bubbles said.
"Yeah, we yell at each other sometimes," Bubbles added.
The band members hold themselves and each other to a high standard and are brutally honest about each other's performances. In the end, the hours of hard work to create each track are worth the effort.
"That's the product of our art," said Jimbot.
The recorded songs become the physical representation of the musicians' artistry.
"Regular artists come in and paint their pictures, and that's their physical thing. We come in and we do our songs," Jimbot said.
The recording also helps the business side of things.
"It's a crucial element of promotion," Bubbles said.
To be able to gain a following, a band must have high-quality recorded music to provide to fans. That's where Betthauser and HPJ Studios come in.
"You're not quite as demanding as some of them out there, but you keep us pretty much on task," Jimbot told Betthauser.
"It makes it seem like you care about what you're doing," he added.
Betthauser and his studio allow local bands to create polished recordings to give to local clubs and radio stations.
Betthauser strives to record music that has studio polish without providing something that is over produced.
"It's always hard to tread that line," Betthauser said.
"How far can we take that recording, but still be able to back it up live?" he added.
That was his goal for his own band, The Quick Are the Dead, when he first started HPJ Studios in 2008.
Betthauser describes his basement studio as "a project studio on steroids."
"We basically set it up comfortably so that I could record my own band, and then we started having other bands and people interested in doing it," Betthauser said.
In the five years since Betthauser built the studio, it has slowly been growing but retaining its comfortable feel.
"People think of recording studios and think of marble countertops and, you know, this grandiose thing, when in reality, probably some of the best albums ever recorded have been recorded in houses," Bubbles said.
Betthauser connected with The Homeland Conspiracy after he and his bandmates, Ed and Matt Skinner, reached out to cooperate with other bands.
"Our band was trying to find other bands that were all about helping each other out," Betthauser said.
The Homeland Conspiracy has been very vocal about bringing local bands together for shows and cross-promotion.
"Nobody's got enough material to cover a whole night, so in order to get your music out there, you've pretty much got to swallow your pride and team up with other people," Duchess said.
"None of us bands can do it on our own," Duchess added.
The Homeland Conspiracy plans to release its first album this winter.
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